Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Women's Day!!

My husband and me are two very different people. He has the memory of en elephant when it comes to remembering faces and I take a longer time to register faces and may be once registered I try to remember them. There have been occasions when I've looked at a person and thought 'he/she looks a lot like 'so and so' only to find out that she/he is indeed the so and so I took him/her to be. If there are two similar looking people I have to see them together to make out who is who. So I was thrilled this morning when I met a person after nearly 15 years and in about 5 minutes after meeting her I actually remembered her as R's mother. Of course by then she had finished greeting me, enquiring after my children, wished me goodbye and gone ahead. Like a tube light her identity flashed in my mind only after she had gone some 50 metres ahead of me and I truly regretted at not having asked her about R. But then that's me.

(To be continued later since I remember that I have something more interesting to share.)

We had a very good programme about 'Feminism in Oriya Short Stories' in our college and we were entertained to an inspirational as well as humorous lecture by Dr. Satya Priya Mahalik who has received several awards for his contribution to Oriya literature. I wish to share a story recounted by him.

A wise ruler of a small estate in Orissa lost a battle against a more powerful emperor and was taken captive. The emperor had given orders for beheading him the following day when he thought that man was going to die anyway so why not ask him a question that had been bothering him. If he answered the question the he would set him free and if he didn't then beheading him would be justified and no one would blame him. So he sent word for the captive king to be brought and asked him to explain how women could be made happy. The question naturally baffled the captive king who was himself unmarried and had not dealt with a wife. He then asked the emperor if there was a specific reason for asking him the question. The emperor replied that however hard he tried his queen was never satisfied or happy. So he was willing to set his captive free and return his kingdom if he came up with a satisfactory answer.

The captive king asked to be released on parole for a year during which time he would seek out people from different walks of life and try to get an answer to the question. He would return in a year's time and would gladly accept punishment if his solution was unacceptable to the queen.

The king saw no harm in granting the man a parole of one year because finding a means to please his queen was far more important.

The captive king travelled across the entire length and breadth of the country and met all kinds of people but none gave him a satisfactory answer. While some said gold and silver would please the queen others suggested that silks and chiffons of the best variety would do the job. While some felt that travelling to exotic destinations would brighten up her spirits others said a court jester could be hired to lighten her mood. But none of these solutions seemed good enough. Finally an old hag living all by hersl in a dense forest came up with a solution. But there was a condition attached.

"In case my solution appeals to the queen and you are set free, you will have to marry me."

Now our captive king was young and had his whole life before him. The thought of marrying this wrinkled old woman was not very attractive but the lease of life promised by the emperor was. He therefore agreed.

He went an conveyed the solution to the emperor. The emperor was impressed. But he had to confirm if the solution offered was acceptable to the queen.

" Oh my beloved queen" said the emperor. " would you be happy if I allowed you to use your wisdom discretion and decide things for yourself instead of trying to impose my will on you? In other words would independence to exercise your will make you happy?"

" Would you really let me do so?" the queen could not believe what she heard. " If you grant me the freedom to act independently and decide things for myself I'd be overjoyed and will give you no reason to complain."

The emperor was glad to have found a solution to his problem and set his captive free. But there was more trouble in store for the king since he had to marry the old hag as per his agreement with her. Being an upright and honest king he went back to the old hag and offered to marry her. His subjectes were upset by his choice but they had no option but to attend the wdding and pretend to be happy.

On the night of the wedding the king entered his nuptial chamber and found a beautiful young girl sitting on the bed. He was pleasantly surprised and asked her how this miracle had taken place. She replied that she had been granted a boon and could change forms twice a day. She could be an old hag or a young woman for 12 hours and get tranformed into the other form for the remaining 12 hours.

"Oh king!" she asked "tell me whether you want me to be a beautiful woman by night and an old hag during the day or if you would prefer to have it the other way around.'

The king was in a fix. Having a beautiful wife during the day would boost his public image but having to spend the night with an old hag would affect his married life. Then a solution flashed in his mind. Taking cue from the solution he offered the emperor the king said-

"My dear queen and my beloved wife, I leave it to you to use your intelligence wisdom and logic and decide for yourself what form you would wish to take and when. As for me, I am okay with both arrangements ."

The queen then decided to remain beautiful and charming right through the 24 hours of a day and our king was rewarded not only with a lease of life but a beautiful and intelligent wife to lead it with.

If only women of today are left to deal with life's situations in their own way we may not even have the need to celebrate a women's day to clamor for it. Mutual trust is all that is required.

Happy Women's Day to all of you.
A word about Dr. Satya Priya Mahalik. He is the 10th and youngest child in his family the other nine being his older sisters. He says that he has no hesitation in admitting that he helps his wife out in housework and takes pride in fact that he can do everything from cooking to cleaning. We need more husbands like you Dr. Mahalik!!

I began the post to say something else but ended up doing a woman's day post. The earlier part in italics has been deliberately left to be continued later.


Unknown said...

It is such a treat to meet such refreshing people isnt it ?

Sumana said...

Wonderful moral from the story. I second you on that, if only women are well educated everywhere and given their freedom, so many of our issues are gone.

Tys on Ice said...

oh please!

nearly half the problem with todays women is of their own just happen to be a great and available punching bag..


scenario no . 1 : a world without men = happy women?

scenario no. 2 : a world with independent woman and independant man ( for the life of me i have no idea what that actually means, but it sounds good so it must be good, nah?) = happy woman?

scenario no. 2 : a perfect world where every being is equal, respected, loved and in peace = happy woman?

happiness by its very nature is momentary...thats its beauty..nothing good is ever permanent...its not stagment...there are no permanant state of well being unless u r an imbecile...a happy woman is a myth...u will always find something ... happiness is within not without...


bet u want to clobber me now... :)

srijithunni said...

A wonderful story Hip Granma, Thanks for sharing and also for introducing Dr.Mahalik!.

Women must rise to the occasion and deliver well.

Have Fun, Take Care and God Bless!

With Best Regards,

Uma said...

I've looked at a person and thought 'he/she looks a lot like 'so and so' only to find out that she/he is indeed the so and so
- This has happened to me so many times, I completely empathise with you :D

On the 'Independence' front - While for many women 'independence' is still an elusive mirage given that they are forced to choose between the frying pan and the fire, I think a lot of us wait for someone to give it to us in a platter. What I mean is that when we choose independence, we have to be willing to face some challenges along the road. I've seen women who are scared of treading that path. For instance, putting up with an abusive husband since divorce/ being a single mom is a still a taboo in our society...

nourish-n-cherish said...

Lovely story!

Vishesh said...

I like stories :)

starry said...

wonderful post .salute to Dr Mahalik.

Hip Grandma said...

eve's lung:Yeah.He is a treat to listen to.

sumana:You should have listened to him. he could drive home the point so well.

Tys on Ice: i think I'll ask Madhu to clobber you. She'd do a better job of it than me and i am sure she'll honor my request. As for you men it is a win win situation isn't it?

srijith:Thank you and please drill in some sense into the head of the malayali gentleman perched right above you.

Uma:dealing firmly with an abusive husband is a yet far cry and distant dream. To deal with a bank account even if one is earning baffles our lot.They get scared of the long que in the bank and would love it if hubby dear managed funds.BTW i caught up with your little pattuspeak today. Tell her that I was delighted.


vishesh:Me too and I am about thrice your age.i can listen to a good story even now.

starry:Thanks Lalitha,I am sure Dr. Mahalik would appreciate your words.

nourish-n-cherish said...

Hip hop gma:
I would appreciate if you could read this post of mine regarding Women.

The rays of the moon pored through the clouds. I lay shivering in the cold, too tired & cold to attract help. My body shivered against the relentless cold, my mind sifted through my own thought processes a few weeks earlier.

Then, I was alive, but in my dreams – today my dreams had come true, but I was dying.

The world outside through the bars in the gold-rimmed cage had seemed wonderful, and every slight opportunity I got, I fantasized about a life of freedom – a life when I could use my wings for that wonderful feeling of free flight. When the time seemed right, that flight I did take. I felt the soaring air flap against my face, I peered to the Earth below and scooped in the delightful flowers.

Life seemed fulfilling before the eerieness of unfamiliarity struck with all its brutality – I now yearned for the motherly touch of the little girl who had nurtured me. The world was closing in….it was gloomier and gloomier, till it was finally dark.

The next thing I remember was the wonderful touch I had yearned for. Warm blood cruised through my veins again. I felt a hot drop against my face, and then another one. I stared up to see the little girl crying for me to pardon her. Did I get the drift of her message through the tears? She wasn’t aware that I was unhappy, and she would let me go my way once I healed? It sounded too good to be true.

Time passed and I healed. I flew joyously among the flowers, trees and hills. Every night I dutifully returned to the little girl’s garden: There was no cage but this was my world now. I was free to do what I wanted and this is what I wanted to do.

I was the Queen in my garden!

A story of a bird
A story of just another modern day woman

Uma said...

On bank accounts - so true!

Am glad you enjoy Pattuspeak :)

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

happy women's day to you .... may i call you mami ? i like your the practical knowledge in your words !!

Hip Grandma said...

saumya:that was beautiful. I think i should read you more and I will. that is a promise.

uma:i've seen women choosing to act helpless and need a prince charming to rush to their help at moment's notice. No amount of women's day celebrations would help such painted dolls.

DEEPA: welcome here. You can call me mami or anything else you want.I am glad you like what I write.

rrmom said...

very nice story. how wonderful it would be if all men could give that freedom to their women. somehow its difficult for men to accept the fact that women can make independent decisions.

Hip Grandma said...

rrmom:i am glad you liked the story.If only we had more men agreeing to respect the rights of a woman..... distant dream I suppose.

dipali said...

Wonderful story told by a remarkable person!